Sunday, November 23, 2014

Two places you must visit on crazy Route 17 in Paramus

A delicious Harvest Salad at the Suburban Diner on Route 17 in Paramus is served with a small bowl of soup, below.

Manhattan Clam Chowder.

Editor's note: Traffic seems to be building as Thanksgiving approaches, but I managed to make four stops for lunch or food shopping on Friday and Saturday.


New Jersey specializes in highways lined with entrances and exits to restaurants, stores and malls, ensuring drivers several heart-stopping moments on every trip.

But two good reasons to venture out on Route 17 in northern New Jersey are the Suburban Diner and Trader Joe's -- in that order.

On Friday, I met a friend at the diner for a heart-healthy lunch before we drove up to Trader Joe's, which, like every food store, shouldn't be visited on an empty stomach.

At the diner, I ordered a special of Harvest Salad, which came with a cup of soup ($11.95).

Fresh spinach was the foundation for roasted butternut squash, pear sections, crumbled blue cheese and dried cranberries, with, at my request, a creamy pear vinaigrette dressing on the side.

Refreshing and delicious, though the pear could have been riper.

Suburban Diner, 172 Route 17 north, Paramus; 1-201-261-2605.

I roasted Brussels Sprouts from Trader Joe's with extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt, adding grated Pecorino Romano Cheese, red-pepper flakes and black pepper after I removed the pan from the oven.

Shopping frenzy

We thought the diner was busy, but when we got to Trader Joe's, the crowd of shoppers seemed even bigger.

But I didn't have to wait to check out. 

According to my receipts, I drove to Trader Joe's, shopped and checked out in 16 minutes.

I bought a large stalk of Brussels Sprouts ($2.99); two 64-ounce bottles of low-sodium Garden Patch, which is 100% vegetable juice ($3.49 each); and two 2-pound bags of sweet potatoes ($1.69 each).

For the meat eaters in the family, I picked up two packages of antibiotic- and nitrite-free bacon ($5.49 each); uncured, antibiotic-free beef hot dogs and jumbo hot dogs ($4.99 each).

A 4-pack of Organic Apple Sauce with Cinnamon was $1.99.

Trader Joe's, 404 Route 17 north, Paramus; 1-201-265-9624.

A 3-liter tin of Corrado's Extra Virgin Olive Oil was $23.99 on Saturday -- $10 more than the same quantity of EVOO at Fattal's in Paterson.

Stocking up on EVOO

After hearing about the poor olive harvests in Spain and Italy, and possible higher prices for extra-virgin olive oil, I drove to Fattal's in Paterson on Saturday.

I picked up three 3-liter bottles of Al Defah Extra Virgin Olive Oil for $13.99 each, adding them to the two I had at home.

I also picked up Fattal's Mini Meat Pies ($8.99), and a package of crushed dried mint ($6.99 a pound).

The EVOO in the Al Defah bottles is said to be from Palestine, and I've been using it for months in salads and cooking.

After visiting Fatal's, I crossed the border into Clifton to shop at Corrado's, a big, ethnic supermarket that once was the low-price leader.

But the prices for most produce, imported whole-wheat pasta, dried cod from China and Canada, and extra-virgin olive oil were higher than at the other stores I patronize regularly.

The only real bargain I saw were bananas for 39 cents a pound.

I didn't buy anything, and I don't think that has ever happened before on my infrequent visits to Corrado's.

Fattal's, 975-79 Main St., Paterson; 1-973-742-7125. Open 7 days, parking lot.

Corrado's Family Affair, 1578 Main Ave., Clifton; 1-973-340-0628. Open 7 days, large parking lot.

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